With Lil Wayne vocals offering some encouragement through her ear buds, Sarah Lopez let loose.
She was a runner — always had been — even though she hadn't run a race in four years.
Photo gallery: 'Heroes in Action' 5K run
Running was how she made friends as a little girl whenever her family moved. Her father, Todd Jagodzinski, a Sylvania native who is an Air Force captain, relocated their family seven times, from Europe to the Midwest to Guam.
Now, running is how Mrs. Lopez — all grown up and married to a Navy man — released all the stress of being away from her husband as he trained at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. She was apart from her high-school sweetheart, Robert Lopez, who dreamed of becoming a Navy SEAL.
Mrs. Lopez was one of hundreds who participated in the "Heroes in Action" 5K race Saturday in Toledo.
Spectators cheered for the runners as they crossed the finish line at International Park under a giant American flag held up by two Toledo fire trucks. The race route looked even more patriotic with U.S. Navy vessels docked in the Maumee River as part of Toledo's Navy Week.
The Blade and the "Heroes in Action Organization" sponsored the event, with a portion of the proceeds going toward support services and care packages for active service members, veterans, and their families.
"It definitely pushed me. I know my husband is out there working hard," said Mrs. Lopez, 22, who is visiting family in the Toledo area with her daughter, Leah, 2. "Just seeing that flag made me want to run harder."
And run hard she did. She ran so fast, she surprised herself.
"I wanted to cry," Mrs. Lopez said after finishing 3.1 miles in just over 22 minutes. "I couldn't believe I pulled that off."
For Katie Tafelski, Saturday was the first 5-kilometer race after training all summer.
"She looked good for her first event," said her father, Joe Tafelski, afterward as his daughter, feeling a little tired, headed to her family's Toledo home to do her homework for Notre Dame Academy. "It was quite a surprise."
What pushed her was the sound of Army runners, chanting, behind her. She wanted to beat them.
The day felt more significant than an average race, the 17-year-old Toledo resident said, because her grandfather served as a Marine captain during the Korean War.